Everything You Should Know About Nutrition And Your Eyes

With autumn upon us, the “fruits” of the season are also here for us to enjoy. And with the bountiful harvest that fall brings with it, there’s no better time to talk health and nutrition – especially when it can so greatly affect your vision and eye health!

In fact, your nutrition can affect your vision – and how well your eyes age – more than you probably know. Here’s why.

Nutritional risk factors

If your diet thrives on deep-fried anything, you’re probably feeling the pain – and so are your eyes. Along with causing countless issues and diseases throughout the body, a diet high in saturated fat and sugar can also increase your risk of eye disease.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), your body works as a network, and what affects your cardiovascular system and hormone balances also affects your eyes.

Among the prime culprits for poor eye health: cardiovascular disease and diabetes, two diseases both highly affected by lifestyle and nutrition. The bottom line: indulging in those saturated fats and sugars won’t help your body – and will hurt your eyes, to boot.

What to look for

When you’re filling your plate, think colorfully! That’s because, in addition to supplying your body with much-needed nutrients, fresh fruits and vegetables tend to contain more antioxidants, which in turn protect your eyes by reducing damage related to oxidizing agents (also called free radicals) that may contribute to age-related eye issues.

When it comes to your vision and eye health, choose foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, both plant pigments called carotenoids that help protect the retina from UV damage. In case you’re not familiar with these nutrients, they can be found in delicious sources like peas, broccoli, spinach, kale and sweet corn.

Additionally, vitamin A, a key component to your eyes’ overall health, is easy – and delicious – to consume. Look for orange and yellow vegetables like carrots, squash and peppers. Many fruits and vegetables also provide vitamin C, another antioxidant that can help preserve the health of your eyes.

Beyond the vitamins

Getting the nutrients you need is a great way to protect your eye health. That said, it’s not just about taking supplements to make up for an otherwise poor diet. Vitamin and nutrient supplements are great, but they won’t make up for a poor, or incomplete diet. Your best bet? Eat foods that are rich in whole grains, low in sugar and refined flours and rich in healthy fats.

When choosing grains, make sure you select those that naturally contain a good amount of fiber, like whole-grain bread and oats. And while we’ve already explained the risks associated with saturated fats, that doesn’t mean you should shun fats entirely. Fat is a vital component to your diet – and your vision. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, specifically, can help prevent dry eyes and even cataracts. These fats can be found in fish, flaxseed oil, walnuts and canola oil.

No diet is complete without a good amount of protein, and your eyes depend on sources of lean protein for optimal health. That said, proteins containing saturated fats may increase your risk of macular degeneration, so opt for lean meat, fish, nuts, legumes and eggs for a protein kick. Eggs are particularly healthy for your eyes because they’re also a good source of lutein.

Beyond the food

They say you are what you eat, but what you drink – and don’t drink – also plays a big role in your health. Keeping yourself hydrated isn’t just vital in your overall health, it can also help you reduce irritation from dry eyes. Opt for water and healthy beverages, which might include 100-percent vegetable juices, low-fat dairy and unsweetened tea. Avoid sugary beverages and those with added sodium.

Ready to step up your nutritional game? Autumn is the perfect time to do just that. Come see us today for more great tips.

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